Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Anatomy of a Tantrum

Remember, if you can, when not getting that candy bar or toy was just unthinkable. You were two, probably, and the big people who controlled everything were inexplicably insisting that you go to bed, eat your peas, withholding life itself. Most of us were so young when we threw our last tantrum that the specific memory is lost; still you may be able to recapture those feelings: how you built up the horror of not having your way to such an unbearable pitch that your anger and frustration were out of control. The evil was so great, so incomprehensible that you had to make them see at all cost! 

It's called "awfulizing." The child's wish must be fulfilled, or the world will come to an end. A socialist nightmare will be unleashed! There will be death panels! People will be dragged into FEMA camps and turned into socialist zombies! Making health insurance more affordable is the greatest possible evil that ever was or ever could be!

And if you are trying to stop the greatest possible evil, then any evil you commit is a lesser evil. Obamacare must be stopped! It does not matter what harm we do.

A child is so dependent on his parents, so helpless that their refusal to fulfill a desire is terrifying. Today, a candy-bar. Tomorrow, food itself? Hugs? Starvation! Death camps! The tantrum is therefore the parents' fault. Their cruel and inexplicable refusal made him scream and break things.

The Teaparty loudly protest their independence, love of freedom, self-reliance and personal responsibility. Yet, their behavior is infantile, histrionic, authoritarian. They blame Obama and the Democrats for what they themselves manifestly do and cause. Their relationship to government is precisely the relationship of a tantrum-throwing child to its parents.

It can scarcely help that daddy is suddenly, inexplicably, and—for two elections now—willfully black.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How I Saved a Man's Life...Almost

See the faith-in-the-system-restoring update, below:

In a few hours, the Great State of Mississippi will execute Willie Manning, a man who they insist must be guilty of two brutal murders, in spite of a few minor flaws in the "conclusive, overwhelming evidence" against him. But there's good news: the FBI has done the right thing and informed Mississippi of problems in their part of the conclusive overwhelmingness, as well as some flaws in the ballistic evidence.

Not feeling quite so conclusively overwhelmed as they perhaps did before, the FBI have offered to perform DNA testing that could exonerate Mr. Manning—or possibly confirm that the case against him is solid enough, after all. Not quite as sure as death, perhaps, but hey, nothing's as sure as that.

So, the Great State of Mississippi has eagerly accepted the FBI's offer to perform this vital DNA test, right? After all, you can't undo an execution.

Well, no. You see, the other evidence against Willie Manning is conclusively overwhelming. Sworn testimony by convicted felons that he said he did it. Oh, wait. One of them recanted. Well, there's hair and fiber analysis by the FBI. Oh, wait. The FBI now says the evidence given by their analyst exceeded the limits of the science. Well, there's ballistics. Oh wait. The FBI says the ballistics evidence is questionable.

Well, never mind all that. The victims were white and Willie Manning is…conclusively guilty. The Great State of Mississippi don't need no DNA when it comes to good old fashioned Southern Justice.

Here is the text of my note to the Governor. Feel free to use it, if you like, but you might want to dress it up a little. I tend to be rather informal:

 Dear Governor Bryant, 
I'm curious to know what evidence could conclusively overwhelm DNA evidence. Or do the majority on the Mississippi Supreme Court and the DA's office mean only that the DNA evidence is bound to confirm the other evidence. Yes. That must be it. But it does raise another question: In that case, why refuse to allow the FBI to perform a test which must clear the Mississippi justice system of any suspicion of lynching or incompetence? It is bound to do that, right? What with the other evidence being so conclusively overwhelming and all.

You can write to Governor Bryant here.

Update Mere seconds after I posted this entry, Twitter lit up with the news that the Mississippi Supreme Court had voted 8-1 to block Willie Manning's execution. Conclusively overwhelming proof of the effectiveness of blogging and sarcasm.